We’ve taken a look back at the last two decades in the third and seen where the losing play-off finalists have finished in the season immediately following their promotion heartbreak. And while it was bad news for some, the Black Cats could be encouraged by the performances of some of their predecessors - and will be hoping that history repeats itself this season. Scroll down and click through the pages to see how the history books suggest the Black Cats will fare, if previous play-off finalists are anything to go by:
1. 2017/18 - Shrewsbury Town
Shrewsbury Town lost out in the play-offs the year before the Black Cats, but struggled in the season following as they lost their manager and a host of key players. Finished the year after play-offs: 18th.
Photo: Martin Rickett
2. 2016/17: Bradford City
A Bradford side containing Charlie Wyke lost to Millwall in the 2017 play-off final and, despite keeping their squad intact, failed to reach the same heights in the season after. Finished the year after play-offs: 11th.
3. 2015/16: Millwall
A rampant Barnsley beat Millwall 3-1 in 2016, but the Lions were not deterred. They bounced back, and clinched promotion to the Championship the following year. Finished the year after play-offs: 6th (promoted via play-offs).
Photo: Steven Paston
4. 2014/15: Swindon Town
Swindon were no match for Preston at Wembley, as North End - managed by Simon Grayson - ran out 4-0 winners. The Robins then struggled in the following campaign. Finished the year after play-offs: 15th.
Photo: Alex Davidson